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Step off, old man!
Thursday, 6 January 2005
Feel safer?
This is from yesterday's New York Times. I'm only reprinting two of the paragraphs but you get the gist.

"In the latest changes at the Central Intelligence Agency, Porter J. Goss, the new chief, has named a new deputy director for intelligence and has abolished a daily 5 p.m. meeting that had been used since the Sept. 11 attacks to coordinate counterterrorism operations around the world, intelligence officials said on Tuesday.


The move appears to reflect what Mr. Goss has publicly said was his concern that the C.I.A. under Mr. Tenet may have devoted too much time and resources to terrorism at the expense of other issues. A report issued last spring by the House Intelligence Committee, at a time when Mr. Goss was the panel's chairman, cautioned that "the Central Intelligence Agency must continue to be much more than just the 'Central Counterterrorism Agency' if America is to be truly secure, prosperous and free."

Either that or Goss is like the President, a man who shudders at the thought of a 40 hour workweek.

Posted by brettdavey at 8:11 AM EST
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Wednesday, 5 January 2005
Wes Clark on torture
This comes off one of the diaries on You know I love Wes Clark and I'm sorry I missed him on "Hardball."

"On Hardball tonight, General Wesley Clark was asked by Matthews about the nomination of Alberto Gonzales for Attorney General. Clark stated in unequivocal terms that the nomination of Gonzales for AG was an outrage. Clark stated that he could not support any person for Attorney General who asserted that:
(1) torture was in any way acceptable under American law;

(2) that the Geneva Conventions could be circumvented; and

(3) the President has unfettered power.

"How could Americans feel confident in the rule of law with an Attorney General who does not respect the most basic tenets of American law?"

Matthews asked Clark if he would testify against Gonzales? Clark responded that he would testify against anyone who signed off the documents Gonzales approved."

Posted by brettdavey at 9:17 AM EST
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Monday, 3 January 2005
The new America
I mentioned this story to a moderately conservative friend of mine. His eyebrows arched and he seemed shocked by the concept of jailing suspected terrorists for life without any kind of trial or conviction.

If they can try and convict Nazi war criminals, they can do the same for Taliban or Al Quaeda members. It's another case of Bush refusing to admit he ever does anything wrong. Think about it: if these people are released without a conviction, it's like admitting we may have grabbed them for no good reason. The President who loves freedom so much doesn't mean freedom for everyone; just those that agree with us.

And as usual, it will take Republicans standing up against the idea for the administration to drop it.

From today's Washington Post:

"A leading Republican senator yesterday condemned as "a bad idea" a reported U.S. plan to keep some suspected terrorists imprisoned for a lifetime even if the government lacks evidence to charge them.

The Pentagon and the CIA have asked the White House to decide on a more permanent approach for those it is unwilling to set free or turn over to U.S. or foreign courts, The Washington Post said in a report yesterday that cited intelligence, defense and diplomatic officials.

Sen. Richard G. Lugar called indefinite holding of terror suspects "a bad idea." Some detentions could potentially last a lifetime, the report said.

Influential senators denounced the idea as probably unconstitutional. "It's a bad idea. So we ought to get over it and we ought to have a very careful, constitutional look at this," Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on "Fox News Sunday."

Sen. Carl M. Levin (Mich.), senior Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, cited earlier U.S. Supreme Court decisions. "There must be some modicum, some semblance of due process . . . if you're going to detain people, whether it's for life or whether it's for years," Levin said, also on Fox.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The State Department declined to comment, and a Pentagon spokeswoman, Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke of the Air Force, had no information on the reported plan.

As part of a solution, the Defense Department, which holds 500 prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, plans to ask Congress for $25 million to build a 200-bed prison to hold detainees who are unlikely to ever go through a military tribunal for lack of evidence, defense officials told The Post.

The new prison, dubbed Camp 6, would allow inmates more comfort and freedom than they have now and would be designed for prisoners the government believes have no more intelligence to share.

The Post said the outcome of a review underway would also affect those expected to be captured in the course of future counterterrorism operations.

One proposal would transfer large numbers of Afghan, Saudi and Yemeni detainees from the Guantanamo Bay detention center into new U.S.-built prisons in their home countries, it said."

Posted by brettdavey at 2:34 PM EST
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Please don't
Today's Boston Herald says that John Kerry may be considering another run at the White House.

My message to him: please don't.

You had your chance. You sucked. You didn't fight back, but you loved to say that you were going to fight back.You used the same tired Democratic consultants who have been getting their asses handed to them for decades.

I want someone new. I want someone with a team that will fight dirty. I want someone with some core convictions.

The Herald article ended by quoting Evan Thomas from his Newsweek article.

"`As this reporter left his house in November, Kerry called out and followed him down the street. He wanted to show a letter from a schoolgirl that had been left on his stoop. The letter read in part, `John Kerry, you're the greatest!'

``Kerry looked into the reporter's eye. `The pundits have never liked me,' he said. `Is it the way I look? The way I sound?' He seemed vulnerable for a moment, then caught himself, smiled and walked home to his empty house.''

Remember again, Evan Thomas is a mainstream reporter who absolutely hated Kerry during the campaign. Why Kerry even spoke with him is beyond me.

Posted by brettdavey at 2:09 PM EST
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Fox lite
I just came off a holiday vacation. My apologies for the lack of posting but I've been watching my son for the last 10 days. My level of respect for stay-at-home parents has gone up about 500 percent.

I'm glad to see "Meet The Press" is going the Fox news route. This was their panel on Sunday: David Broder, Kate O'Beirne, William Safire & Evan Thomas

The first three are right-leaners and the fourth -- Evan Thomas -- was among the leading mainstream haters of both Gore and Kerry.

Things are so bad right now that to get an even-keeled discussion of the current Administration, you don't even need a left-leaning panelits. Even the pundits with their lips firmly planted on Bush's ass are starting to question his sanity.

Posted by brettdavey at 2:04 PM EST
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Wednesday, 22 December 2004
Right on
Bob Herbert from the NY Times gets it right here. Again, I'm staggered when I try to understand why so many military families and their loved ones who are doing the fighting love Bush so much.

Here it is:

"Greg Rund was a freshman at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., in 1999 when two students shot and killed a teacher, a dozen of their fellow students and themselves. Mr. Rund survived that horror, but he wasn't able to survive the war in Iraq. The 21-year-old Marine lance corporal was killed on Dec. 11 in Falluja.

The people who were so anxious to launch the war in Iraq are a lot less enthusiastic about properly supporting the troops who are actually fighting, suffering and dying in it. Corporal Rund was on his second tour of duty in Iraq. Because of severe military personnel shortages, large numbers of troops are serving multiple tours in the war zone, and many are having their military enlistments involuntarily extended.

Troops approaching the end of their tours in Iraq are frequently dealt the emotional body blow of unexpected orders blocking their departure for home. "I've never seen so many grown men cry," said Paul Rieckhoff, a former infantry platoon leader who founded Operation Truth, an advocacy group for soldiers and veterans.

"Soldiers will do whatever you ask them to do," said Mr. Rieckhoff. "But when you tell them the finish line is here, and then you keep moving it back every time they get five meters away from it, it starts to really wear on them. It affects morale."

We don't have enough troops because we are fighting the war on the cheap. The Bush administration has refused to substantially expand the volunteer military and there is no public support for a draft. So the same troops head in and out of Iraq, and then back in again, as if through a revolving door. That naturally heightens their chances of being killed or wounded.

A reckoning is coming. The Army National Guard revealed last Thursday that it had missed its recruiting goals for the past two months by 30 percent. Lt. Gen. H. Steven Blum, who heads the National Guard Bureau, said: "We're in a more difficult recruiting environment, period. There's no question that when you have a sustained ground combat operation going that the Guard's participating in, that makes recruiting more difficult."

Just a few days earlier, the chief of the Army Reserve, Lt. Gen. James Helmly, told The Dallas Morning News that recruiting was in a "precipitous decline" that, if not reversed, could lead to renewed discussions about reinstatement of the draft.

The Bush administration, which has asked so much of the armed forces, has established a pattern of dealing in bad faith with its men and women in uniform. The callousness of its treatment of the troops was, of course, never more clear than in Donald Rumsfeld's high-handed response to a soldier's question about the shortages of battle armor in Iraq.

As the war in Iraq goes more and more poorly, the misery index of the men and women serving there gets higher and higher. More than 1,300 have been killed. Many thousands are coming home with agonizing wounds. Scott Shane of The Times reported last week that according to veterans' advocates and military doctors, the already hard-pressed system of health care for veterans "is facing a potential deluge of tens of thousands of soldiers returning from Iraq with serious mental health problems brought on by the stress and carnage of war."

Through the end of September, nearly 900 troops had been evacuated from Iraq by the Army for psychiatric reasons, included attempts or threatened attempts at suicide. Dr. Stephen C. Joseph, an assistant secretary of defense for health affairs from 1994 to 1997, said, "I have a very strong sense that the mental health consequences are going to be the medical story of this war."

When the war in Afghanistan as well as Iraq is considered, some experts believe that the number of American troops needing mental health treatment could exceed 100,000.

From the earliest planning stages until now, the war in Iraq has been a tragic exercise in official incompetence. The original rationale for the war was wrong. The intelligence was wrong. The estimates of required troop strength were wrong. The war hawks' guesses about the response of the Iraqi people were wrong. The cost estimates were wrong, and on and on.

Nevertheless the troops have fought valiantly, and the price paid by many has been horrific. They all deserve better than the bad faith and shoddy treatment they are receiving from the highest officials of their government."

Posted by brettdavey at 9:51 AM EST
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Our new role models
Most Americans like to think of the United States as a gleaming beacon of integrity and superior moral behavior. That's why most people either don't know or don't want to know about our past relationships with dictators or our new infatuation with torturing people.

We're not perfect, but at the least, I would hope we would aspire to be better than other countries that torture prisoners. Firstly, how can you know the information you get from someone being tortured is accurate? Torture me and I'll admit to anything. Seems the Syrias and Egypts of the world are our new role models.

Has there ever been a more incompetent group of people than the clowns running the current White House? One of the unforseen impacts of 9-11 was that it gave Bush a second term. Talk about the terrorists winning. For another four years, they have their chief recruiting tool in the White House: a disinterested President who will continue a suicidal policy simply because he will never admit he is wrong.

We're not winning against the terrorists; we're just creating more of them. If you don't think indiscriminate killing of thousands of innocent civilians creates a widespread bloodthirst for revenge, think again. Just look at how the U.S reacted after 9-11.

From the Toronto Sun:

"Who supplied "Chemical Ali" with his mustard and nerve gas? Why, the West, of course. In late 1990, I discovered four British technicians in Baghdad who told me they had been "seconded" to Iraq by Britain's ministry of defence and MI6 intelligence to make chemical and biological weapons, including anthrax, Q-fever and plague, at a secret laboratory at Salman Pak.

The Reagan administration and Thatcher government were up to their ears in backing Iraq's aggression, apparently with the intention to overthrow Iran's Islamic government and seize its oil. Italy, Germany, France, South Africa, Belgium, Yugoslavia, Brazil, Chile and the USSR all aided Saddam's war effort against Iran, which was even more a victim of naked aggression than was Kuwait in 1991.

I'd argue senior officials of those nations that abetted Saddam's aggression against Iran and supplied him with chemicals and gas should also stand trial with Ali and Saddam.

What an irony it is to see U.S. forces in Iraq now behaving with much the same punitive ferocity as Saddam's army and police -- bombing rebellious cities, arresting thousands, terrorizing innocent civilians, torturing captives and sending in tanks to crush resistance.

In other words, Saddamism without Saddam. A decade ago, this column predicted that when the U.S. finally overthrew Saddam, it would need to find a new Saddam.

Finally, let's not forget that when Saddam's regime committed many of its worst atrocities against rebellious Kurds and Shiites, it was still a close ally of Washington and London. The West paid for and supplied Saddam's bullets, tanks, gas and germs. He was our regional SOB.

Our hands are very far from clean."

Posted by brettdavey at 9:43 AM EST
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Tuesday, 21 December 2004
Jesus, Santa, and Bill O'Reilly
These days, Republicans don't have much to offer except incompetence, war and deficits up to our eyeballs. Once they get on television, however, they spin like a top. Their new plan to save America seems to consist of dusting off old scapegoats and flat out making stuff up.

On the scapegoat front, Bill Clinton has been propped back up as the man responsible for everything that goes wrong, I'm guessing at least, for the next 20 years. Remember how the bad economy was his fault? (Wink. Wink.)Now, the new RNC talking points is that the armorless Humvees that are putting our troops at risk are Clinton's fault. Yessiree! Both Oliver North and Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) have emerged from their caves to parrot this talking point over the last couple days. Forget the fact those Humvees were created in a different time, when the President wasn't expected to send troops into harm's way on nothing more than a gut feeling.

Of course, the four years this Administration has had to fix the problem weren't enough. Must be Clinton's fault. If it weren't for Bill, the Republicans would be awful close to "The dog ate my homework" territory.

The television snake oil salesmen, who like to treat their viewers like backwards swamp dwellers, are peddling a new tonic: Christmas is in danger! Bill O'Reilly, when he's not busy making explicit sexual phone calls, is the Great White Knight saving Christmas from the "secularists". Did anyone in the mainstream ever use that word before O'Reilly? Now, it's a word that packs the punch of "child molester" or "liberal." The poor persecuted white race. However will they overcome the barbarians at the gate?

Of course, O'Reilly plays his viewers for the fool by finding four or five isolated incidents where Christmas displays are kept off public property and makes them out to be a movement. Now, the ever-brave Joe Scarborough is taking up the cause. Go Joe!

A woman I work with who is religious and an O'Reilly fan confided in me that there is a movement underway to extinguish Christianity. When I asked her to confide the details of this insidious plot, she repeated the O'Reilly talking points verbatim. I tried to explain to her that she was being played for a rube, but she didn't want to hear it. She snuck away, nervously looking over her shoulder for the coming hordes of Christian-killers.

She shouldn't have to look far for the culprit. It's only a matter of hours before the assault on Christmas ends up in the lap of William Jefferson Clinton.

Posted by brettdavey at 8:47 AM EST
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Friday, 17 December 2004
Happy anniversary.. feel safer?
Remember when everyone went bananas on Howard Dean for saying the capture of Sadddam didn't make us any safer?

We just passed an important anniversary, one that none of the puppy dog media covered for fear it would make the Worst President Ever look bad.

A letter writer to summed it up pretty well:

Subject: one year anniversary

Yes Bart, the one year anniversary of the capture of Saddam has come and gone. There was not much fanfare as there was last year. From all accounts by the mediawhores at the time with the capture the war would turn more so in our favor, but a strange thing
happened on the way to the celebration by Bush and Company.

Total Fatalities since December 13, 2003: 904 (Saddam Hussein is captured)

This is a shame and Bart in your updates you hit it dead solid perfect accusing Bush and his friends from becoming super rich from this bloody war. You asked the perfect question: Are you happy with your vote America?

Well we see now that all the hoopla about the exit polls and the morals and values was a crock. People ask me on the issue of morals why I like Clinton so much and not Bush.

Well hell it is simple, Clinton is a man that knows he can sin, wheras Bush is man who believes he cannot sin and if he does, then his sins are justified.


Posted by brettdavey at 7:13 AM EST
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Too Much Trouble
I often wonder if any of the dirtbags involved in the Bush Adminsitration even feel a little bit bad about the soldiers killed in our various overseas engagements. I think they're more like a teenager who doesn't feel bad about doing something wrong, but feels bad about getting caught.

Of course, Rummy couldn't sign condolence letters to the families of soldiers killed in combat. He's too busy perfecting his Dirty Harry squint and pithy, pissy comebacks.


Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld will begin personally signing condolence letters sent to families of troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, after receiving criticism over his use of mechanical signatures.

In a statement provided to Stars and Stripes on Thursday, Rumsfeld tacitly admitted that in the past he has not personally signed the letters, but said he was responsible for writing and approving each of the 1,000-plus messages sent to the fallen soldiers' families.

"I have directed that in the future I sign each letter," he said in the statement.

"I am deeply grateful for the many letters I have received from the families of those who have been killed in the service of our country, and I recognize and honor their personal loss."

In a separate statement, Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita said, "In the interest of ensuring timely contact with grieving family members, he has not individually signed each letter."

Department of Defense officials for the past few weeks had said only that the content of the letters was private.

But several families of troops killed overseas said they were sure the notes they received had not been signed by hand, and said they were angry that Rumsfeld was not paying attention to their loss.

"To me it's an insult, not only as someone who lost a loved one but also as someone who served in Iraq," Army Spc. Ivan Medina told Stripes.

"This doesn't show our families the respect they deserve," said Medina, a New York resident whose twin brother, Irving, was killed in a roadside bombing in Iraq this summer.

Illinois resident Bette Sullivan, whose son John was killed in November 2003 while working as an Army mechanic in Iraq, was incensed when she, her son's wife and her grandchildren received the exact same condolence letter with the apparently stamped signature.

"If each family receives two copies, how many signatures does that amount to?" she asked in an e-mail response to Stripes. "I can understand the use of stamped signatures for his brothers' mementos, but for those of his wife and children and mother? No, no, no."

Retired Army Col. David Hackworth, an author and frequent critic of the Department of Defense, publicly criticized Rumsfeld in a syndicated column earlier this month for not reviewing each KIA letter personally.

He called the fake signatures "like having it signed by a monkey."

"Using those machines is pretty common, but it shouldn't be in cases of those who have died in action," he said. "How can [DOD officials] feel the emotional impact of that loss if they're not even looking at the letters?"

Hackworth said he objected to using the stamped signatures for promotion and commendation letters as well, but said not personally handling the condolence letters is a much more serious offense.

Family members had expressed similar concerns to Stripes about President Bush's signature on his condolence letters, but Allen Abney, spokesman for the president, said that Bush does personally sign the letters sent from the White House.

Posted by brettdavey at 6:45 AM EST
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